Tucker’s Right

Tucker’s Right, by Michael Anton.

The ways in which he breaks — on his nightly show and in bestselling book, Ship of Fools — with the rightist iron triangle of Republican politicians, conservative donors, and the magazine-think tank industrial complex are legion.

Why is capital taxed at half the rate of labor, Carlson asks, and is manifestly unsatisfied by the conventional Right’s answer that “investment” is necessary for “growth and innovation.” What good are the latter, he further asks, if all their gains accrue to a narrowing upper slice while those taxed double for working (assuming they can find jobs) can’t afford to share in the supposed glories of late-stage capitalism?

Why are we still making trade deals, three decades (at least) into a manufacturing decline that has devastated entire American industries and hollowed out many of our communities, all the while enriching some of our most determined foes? Why do our politicians insist on getting us into wars we not only can’t win but for which they can’t even define victory?

Above all, why — at a population of 330 million and climbing, with as many as 22 million here illegally — do our elites refuse to do anything whatsoever to control our borders? Indeed, why do they thwart, at every turn, President Trump on this very issue and attack anyone who speaks up for any limit on immigration whatsoever? …

Which is why Tucker Carlson has become the de facto leader of the conservative movement — assuming any such thing can still be said to exist. He didn’t seek the position. I doubt he wants it. He’d probably disclaim it, in fact. But the mantle settled on him nonetheless, partly by default, though it’s more than that. …

Carlson’s message is in tune with the times. Limbaugh became famous in part by grasping, early, where conservatism was headed in the immediate post-Reagan era. Carlson is similarly more in tune than anyone else with the mix of populism, economic centrism, immigration restrictionism, and war fatigue that motivates today’s disaffected Right. …

In perhaps his most famously enigmatic remark, Aristotle asserts that “natural right is changeable.” This is hardly the place to attempt to plumb the depths of that idea. Yet it is useful in helping us understand why Carlson is both correct and conservative, while his detractors fall short on both counts. The conservative ideas that they venerate originated at specific times to address specific circumstances and challenges. Tax cuts made sense in 1980, when the top marginal rate was 70% and the American economy needed to achieve the escape velocity to leave behind stagflation. Low tax rates are not the most urgent priority when the richest Americans are taxed only on the carried interest of their two-and-twenty, when the share of wealth income controlled by the One Percent has more than doubled since 1980. Carlson gets this. His ankle-biter critics don’t. Like Reagan, Carlson prioritizes the conservation of the actual American nation: its people, communities, traditions, and liberties. That’s what conservatism should be about. All policies — even the best — are just tools to conserve things higher than themselves.


Ship of Fools’s treatment of immigration in its second chapter, “Importing a Serf Class,” is highly informative and entirely correct. “My views on immigration come from growing up in California,” Carlson told me.

People want to make it about race, but it’s not. When I was a kid, my best friend was Mexican. Granted, he was rich, his parents were from the Mexican upper class. But still. The point is, when you allow more poor people into your state than you can assimilate, you create poverty. Unchecked immigration wrecked the state — 100%, immigration did that. Whatever the ruling class did to California, I don’t want it to do to America.

“Conservatives,” of course — recent rightward feints aside — are mostly all for mass immigration. “I was too, once,” Carlson says. “But I care more about tactile reality than about theories. The think-tanks are all about theories. Those organizations have become poison.” …


The book’s fifth, and best, chapter explains in nauseating detail one of the reasons for our elites’ obsession with “diversity.” Some of them no doubt believe every word of the dogma they force on the rest of us. But the cleverest of them also know that promoting diversity is a key to maintaining their power. The less the disaffected have in common, and the more they squabble among themselves, the less of a threat they pose to the ruling class. Our country has been, and continues to be, disunited on purpose. That’s the hidden fourth motive — after importing Democratic voters, welfare state clients, and cheap labor — for our elites’ stalwart support of mass legal and illegal immigration.

Why leftists and the establishment right fear Tucker so:

Judging by the consistent anger Carlson arouses, one must at least entertain the possibility that the ruling class is right to fear him. Carlson and his show are the tip of the spear in a spiritual war, the most effective voice of the disaffected, despised, left-behind, forgotten America that our elites have manifestly failed. The ruling class knows this. Its leftist handmaidens know it. They can’t beat him on the field of ideas. Not simply because he’s smarter and wittier than they are, but more fundamentally because he’s right and they’re wrong. And they know it. As Carlson put it to me:

On some level, they know they’re rotten. They know their gains are ill-gotten and not deserved, the result of bleeding middle America dry. But rather than accept responsibility, what do they do? They blame middle America. They hate middle America because they shafted middle America. Think about it, who do you hate the most? You hate the people you wrong. You get mad at family members more when you wrong them than when they wrong you. It’s the same dynamic. Grown-ups can admit it and apologize. The ruling class can’t.

The ruling class and its social-media-mob bodyguard hates Tucker Carlson not simply because they know he’s right, but because they know he’s effective. The greatest danger to the ruling class is that his message spreads: to other hosts, other shows, other networks, other media and — most dangerous of all — more people.

A highly recommended three and a half minutes:

Without free speech there is no democracy.